Monthly Archives: May 2016

Network Design

Action = Permission + Ideas

returning a volleyball

Return the Ball to the Network Members

This is part of an occasional series on network design

One network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. Another is navigating that the network has needs, too. Resources are limited, and finding ways to meet members’ requests without overburdening those resources is another part of network design. There are easy ways to bump the requests back to members and invite them to take part in organizing the network game.

Principles

Look for and offer win-win solutions, and embrace limits.  People want to participate, they want to contribute and do their part. But they don’t always notice what they can do. Give people permission to act. Harness people’s energy, and then point them in a productive direction.

Look for solutions beyond the obvious choices. This often requires naming uncomfortable issues and being clear about what options are viable. Limits often help people innovate and find third-way solutions.

Example

A colleague mentioned her just-starting network members are eager to get going, but she’s still trying to figure out the people to support the network. Several members will be gathering at conference, and they asked about doing something there. And, she won’t be there to organize. read more »

Sabbatical

New Ideas Emerging

seedlings sprout

Image credit: Jon Sullivan

On a recent Saturday, I offered a four-hour invitation to Come and Think About Hard Things in a facilitated discussion. Read to the end to find out what action I’m taking in response to their support and encouragement.

I was honored that 20 members of my professional (and personal) community came out to support me. I like to think my commitment to relationships and people in the past means my community is there for me – complex reciprocity at it’s best. And, it’s humbling.

the group

Four hours, on a Saturday in May

(Thanks to Lisa for facilitating, and to Michael for helping design the agenda and frame up my presentation.)

After a little getting to know one another, I offered my current thinking about the work I’d like to do [with others].

  1. First, I shared my idea of a healthy community, which is a place that achieves two specific goals. It must respect each person’s self-defined identity, in the design of spaces, in interactions with others, and offering reasonable access to the benefits of the city. It must also respect the self-determination of each person as they work towards personal and community goals, and as they voice their own needs.
  2. Second, I offered three guiding principles about how to get there, illustrating them each with local examples. We must remedy historical imbalances of power, naming them, rebalancing them, and redressing the compound interest that has already accumulated. Then, we must align our actions with our values, patiently and consistently acting with integrity. Finally, we must knit our community together, across racial, physical, and other gaps.
  3. Third, I shared why I think a network weaving approach offers the radical challenge to our current way of doing business that we’ll need to make the shift I hope for. Besides accelerating the great work that is already happening, it’s an approach that explicitly acknowledges that the patterns of relationships are replicated at all levels. It isn’t possible to build a balanced, healthy system on top of an unbalanced, unhealthy relationships.

I closed by asking people to explore this framework with me, both on the Saturday we were together and throughout the summer. (I am reworking my presentation to address some of the comments, and I will share that here.) read more »

Network Weaving

The Power of the Invitation

 

inaugural invitation

Imagine how it feels to get this.

Invitations are powerful.

Invitations signify who is invited, and powerfully indicate who is not. Invitations communicate who is valued, who is part of the in-crowd, and who is not. (Do you still remember that third grade birthday party you didn’t get invited to and how it stung? Or the friend who didn’t invite you to their wedding?)

As a network weaver, invitations are one of my key tools. It is almost a super-power. I spend a significant amount of time making personalized, specific invitations. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s critical because…

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Sabbatical

Seeking Clearness, Embracing Uncertainty

coin purse of origami cranes

Each crane is like one question, insight, or reflection of my exploration.

My big sabbatical goal is to get clarity in where and how I focus my work.

As part of my process, I’m asking my colleagues and friends for help. Asking people to help is easy for me — unless I’m asking people to help ME. While it’s uncomfortable, the generosity and support of people supporting me in this effort is humbling. Thank you.

I shared that I am hosting two convenings, the first a clearness committee that was held last week. In my invitation, I said,

I’m seeking clearness in where and how I will focus my work. The purpose of this meeting isn’t to arrive at any final answers for the focus of my future work, but just to help me clarify the questions that are most important for me to answer during my sabbatical. During the meeting, I’m hoping you’ll ask me good questions that help me frame what I want to learn as a part of my sabbatical. 

I’ve spent a week synthesizing last week’s clearness committee into my thinking. I’m making notes where I’m finding the clarity I seek, and naming the discomfort and uncertainty that I continue to uncover as I reflect on and re-review the committee notes. This is another iterative process.   read more »